Budget Trailblazer

Budget Trailblazer: Ibrahim Ali

Each month, we shine a spotlight on partners who are using budget advocacy to bring transformational change to their communities. This month, we’re highlighting Ibrahim Ali, a member of the Board of Directors and founder of the Libyan Transparency Association, and a consultant in the field of good governance and anti-corruption.

 

Your organization has been advocating for government transparency and anti-corruption in Libya since 2011. What inroads have you made? 

In 2011, we organized the first roundtable for transparency for Libya – for the finance and oil sector. We brought together all the stakeholders from the government, the companies, the NGOs and the media and we made recommendations to have access to information and anti-corruption policies. We also advocated to have Libya join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). And then in 2012, we helped establish the first anti-corruption commission.  

 

Tell me about your work on budget transparency. 

We give trainings to the government sectors and NGOs about good governance. It is very new in Libya. All sectors in Libya need good governance. For oil, the health sector, any sector. We have to hear from the citizens and NGOs what people need for next year’s budget. Do they need more money in the health sector, for example? In 2016 we started to work with local municipalities and learned about citizen budgets and participatory budgeting.  

 

What have you learned from participating in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s network of nonprofits in the Middle East and North Africa region? 

The Libyan Transparency Association is a member of the NGO group, the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network (ACINET), the first Arab regional mechanism that brings together governmental and non-governmental entities to consult and cooperate against corruption. ACINET currently includes 49 ministries and official agencies from 18 Arab countries, two observer members, and the “Non-Governmental Group”, which consists of 28 independent organizations from civil society, private sector and academia. 

ACINET is convened periodically to review its progress reports and identify priorities for its work. It also issues resolutions, conclusions and other documents to provide guidance on anti-corruption and integrity issues and support related efforts across the Arab region. The “Regional Support Unit” in Beirut provides secretariat services to the Network. It is funded and hosted by the UNDP’s Regional Portfolio on Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries (ACIAC) and cooperates with various partners including the League of Arab States (LAS), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Every year we meet and we get to exchange our experiences and learn what (others) do. For instance, with access to information, and good governance, we learned what they do in the Arab region. And they learn about our work with anti-corruption and integrity.  

 

You are about to take part in a pilot Open Budget Survey. The results won’t be published, but you’ll be able to gauge where Libya stands in relation to other countries. What do you hope to get out of the process? 

We welcome partnering with IBP. In Libya, we need to exchange experiences, learn from others, and have more budget transparency. This is very important. We hope that (by participating in the OBS) the citizens of Libya will know where the money goes. They need to know exactly where the money goes.  

 

What transparency and openness goals do you have for Libya going forward? 

We will work for a citizen’s budget and an open and transparent budget, so citizens know the budget information. That is our plan, along with putting more information on the website so it will be easier to find.  Transparent and inclusive budgeting supports better fiscal outcomes and more responsive, impactful and equitable public policies. (Right now) you have to go to the Minister of Finance and ask (for that information). This is the way of transparency – access to information, where it goes and what they spend. When they know these things, it will help citizens have a good knowledge of the general budget and what priorities should be spent in the coming year. (And they can say to the government), “You spent a lot for defense – we need to spend for the health sector or education.” An open and transparent budget process fosters trust in society that people’s views and interests are respected, and that public money is used well. If there is no transparency, we don’t know where the money goes. 

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union.

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